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pmdtechnologies gmbh
Industry Fabless Semiconductor
Founded 1996 (S-Tec)
2002 (PMDTec)
Headquarters Siegen, Germany
Key people
Dr. Bernd Buxbaum
Dr. Thomas May
Products 3D CMOS Image sensors
Number of employees
50+ (2010)

pmdtechnologies is a developer of CMOS semiconductor 3D time-of-flight (ToF) components and a provider of engineering support in the field of digital 3D imaging.[1] The company is named after the Photonic Mixer Device (pmd) technology used in its products to detect 3D data in real time. The corporate headquarters of the company is located in Siegen, Germany.

Company profile[edit]

After initially focusing on industrial applications,[2][3] pmd began to spread their application areas into other fields, including the automotive sector,[4][5] consumer electronics, gaming,[6] security & surveillance, medical technology [7] and live sciences. As a fabless IC supplier, pmd designs high-integrated 3D CMOS imagers according to customer and application specific requirements. pmdtechnologies has state-of-the-art optical wafer testing capabilities in order to test and certify their pmd PhotonICs sensors to comply with relevant industry-specific standards and specifications.[citation needed] To customers and partners they provide support for mixed signal chip design (CMOS), digital system design (VHDL), system-on-chip (SoC) integration, development of sensor modules and camera solutions, as well as 3D visualization and image processing.[8]


pmdtechnologies was founded in 2002 as a spin-off of the Center for Sensor Systems (ZESS) at the University of Siegen, Germany. It was the result of over 10 years of scientific research on 3D ToF imaging.[9]
Another ZESS spin-off, S-TEC Sensor GmbH, founded in 1996, began developing pmd products in 1997. This company was acquired by pmdtechnologies in 2002.


Investments, among others by Audi Electronics Venture GmbH, Audi AG and ifm electronics GmbH,[10] exceed 30 million euro (up to 2010). In 2013 ifm electronics gmbh became 100% shareholder.


PhotonICs 19k-S3: pmd Chip with 160x120 distance and grey value pixels
USB-powered single board pmd reference design
pmd image: Color coded depth map
pmd image: Grey value map

The new generation of "Smart-Pixel" pmd sensors is able to capture a complete 3D scene in real time without any moving parts, e.g. as used in scanners. The first patent for these pmd standard CMOS time-of-flight sensors was filed in 1996. With these new semiconductor components, it is possible to "perceive" distance in addition to the common grayscale information directly. A modulated optical signal sent out by a transmitter illuminates the scene to be measured. The reflected light is detected by the pmd sensor, which is able to determine the time-of-flight per every single pixel. Thus the complete 3D information is captured in parallel - without needing excessive calculation power. The pmd method is a time-of-flight (ToF) approach in terms of performance, resistance to background light, robustness, cost and size. Since 2007, the company’s own series of conferences, the pmd[vision]® Day, has been keeping customers, partners and 3D enthusiasts up-to-date with latest news and developments.


  • 1996
    • Basic pmd patents are filed and S-TEC Sensor GmbH founded to develop pmd-based solutions and services
  • 1997
    • Proof of the pmd concept and launch of extensive development projects with major automotive OEMs
  • 1998
    • Government-funded automotive initiative "3D-SIAM" is launched (total value six million euro) and first solid state Time-of-Flight demonstrator (1D) worldwide based on pmd technology.
  • 2000
    • First solid state Time-of-Flight 3D camera based on pmd technology.
  • 2002
    • pmdtechnologies gmbh is founded, Audi Electronics GmbH becomes a shareholder,[11]
    • Acquisition of S-TEC GmbH
    • pmdtechnologies is nominated for the German Future Award[12] which is issued by the President of Germany
  • 2003
    • Launch of pmd PhotonICs® 1k-S (64×16 pixels), the first all-solid-state 3D ToF sensor with suppression of background light feature – a milestone for outdoor applications in tough environments, e.g. for use in automobile safety
    • Launch of pmd[vision]® 1k-S, 3D outdoor camera based on pmd PhotonICs® 1k-S
  • 2004
    • Launch of pmd PhotonICs® 3k-S (64×48 pixels) for manufacturing industries,
    • License agreement with ifm electronics, start of development of products for deployment in manufacturing and automation
  • 2005
    • ifm electronics gmbh becomes a shareholder
    • Launch of efector pmd
    • Hanover Fair's Hermes Award for efector pmd[13]
  • 2006
    • Launch of the third generation sensor for the automotive applications: pmd PhotonICs® 1k-S3 (64×16 pixels)
    • Launch of the second generation sensor for manufacturing industries: pmd PhotonICs® 3k-S2 (64×48 pixels),
    • Merger of pmdtechnologies gmbh and S-TEC GmbH
    • Government-funded robotics Lynkeus project launched (total value 12 million euro)
  • 2007
    • Launch of pmd[vision]® O3 (64×48 pixels)
  • 2008
    • more than 100,000 pmd sensors sold to date
    • Launch of efector pmd 3d
    • pmdtechnologies is winner of the Innovation Award for efector pmd 3d[14]
  • 2009
    • Launch of pmd[vision]® CamCube (with 204×204 pixels – a world record for all-solid-state 3D ToF technology),
    • Launch of pmd[vision]® S3 (64×48 pixels)
    • Start of Hightech.NRW project "LaotSe" – 2D/3D sensor fusion project funded by North-Rhine Westphalia (total value four million euro) [15][16]
    • Frost & Sullivan Bestows European Enabling Technology Award in Real-Time 3D Imaging on pmdtechnologies gmbh [17][18][19]
  • 2010
    • Launch of pmd[vision]® CamBoard (with 200×200 pixels – first USB powered single board 3D ToF camera worldwide)
  • 2011
    • Omek Interactive and pmdtechnologies announce strategic partnership to deliver integrated high-end gesture recognition and body-tracking solutions[20]
    • pmdtechnologies establish a new branch in Dresden [21]
  • 2012
    • pmdtechnologies announces at Consumer Electronics Show 2012 in Las Vegas that the companies 160×120 pixel 3D CMOS imager is ready for mass market usage. The pmd PhotonICs® 19k-S3 is the first commercially available 3D-ToF (Time-of-Flight) chip for camera developers and system integrators.[22]
    • pmd´s new community platform cayim(can you imagine) for CamBoard nano developers is launched.
    • The sensor and marketing cooperation between pmdtechnologies gmbh and Infineon Technologies AG has been introduced [23]
  • 2013
  • 2014
    • Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group (ATAP) announces pmd as Project Tango Partner


The competitors in the field of time-of-flight cameras are SoftKinetic and MESA Imaging.


  1. ^ Forst & Sullivan Homepage -
  2. ^ pmd technology timeline up to 2009 (
  3. ^ Example for a pmd based Automation Product 3D Image Sensor Evaluates Size, Shape and Level
  4. ^ First PMDvision Day - Automotive (in German)
  5. ^ Free space determination for parking slots using a 3D pmd sensor - Scheunert, U. Fardi, B. Mattern, N. Wanielik, G. Keppeler, N. - Intelligent Vehicles Symposium, 2007 IEEE, Istanbul, 13–15 June 2007
  6. ^ Minority Report - Futuristic Interface Technologies by 3D Vision Inspect Online, July 2009
  7. ^ Time-of-Flight sensor for patient positioning Medical Imaging 2009: Visualization, Image-Guided Procedures, and Modeling; Schaller,Adelt,Penne,Hornegger; Proceedings of the SPIE, Volume 7261 (2009)
  8. ^ Company Profile located on the pmdtechnologies Homepage (
  9. ^ VDI Nachrichten (in German) (
  10. ^ ifm Homepage (
  11. ^ Audi Annual Report 2006, Technology "The seeing diode" (page 58)
  12. ^ German Future Award (in German) (
  13. ^ "Hermes Award" (Portable Document Format). Hanover, Germany: Hannover Messe. September 2008. p. 5. Retrieved 6 October 2009. Winning the award gave a massive boost to the motivation of our workforce 
  14. ^ Räumliches Sehen mit kompakter 3D-Kamera - NoAE Innovations-Wettbewerb 2009
  15. ^ "Sicherer starten und landen". Siegener Zeitung (in German) (Vorländer und Rothmaler). 2009-04-06. 
  16. ^ Milestones located on the pmdtechnologies Homepage (
  17. ^ Forst & Sullivan Homepage (
  18. ^ Wallstreet-Online (
  19. ^ FoxBusiness(
  20. ^ Omek Interactive Partnership
  21. ^ [1] December 2011 , Siegen, Germany
  22. ^ PMDTechnologies ramps 3D CMOS imager for mass market usage 9. January 2012 , Las Vegas, USA
  23. ^ Image Sensor Blog Juni 2012

Further reading[edit]

  • Prof. Dr.-Ing. L. Overmeyer, S. Kleinert, "Stapeln leicht gemacht - 3D Kameratechnik unterstützt die Ladungshandhabung und hilft Unfälle zu vermeiden", "Industrial Vision", Vereinigte Fachverlage GmbH, Mainz, 2011

External links[edit]